Leaking unintended consequences


Thinking further on the subject of yesterday’s post, I haven’t been able to get a certain scenario out of my head. According to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald there is no stopping the flow of leaks of NSA documents. More and more secret spying on Americans will likely be revealed in the coming days and weeks. There is mass hand wringing by US government officials, and predictions of gloom and doom from liberal and conservative pundits.

But what if something happens now? Something big. Just let there be another attack like Boston or Benghazi or worse, and you can bet your request for asylum that the secret surveillance police state will become much, much worse. The full fury of our national control freaks and spooks will be focused on investigative journalists and their sources. The already secret government will close in on itself, and anyone daring to peek behind the curtain will be dealt with very harshly.

And what’s to say that an incident couldn’t be concocted, all in the name of national security, of course, to be blamed on the most convenient Islamist extremists. Certainly the imaginative folks in the NSA could dream up a little happening designed to point out the dangers of allowing our enemies to know too much about us.

These things are too horrible to think about, to be sure. But who would have thought that young Americans perched in an Apache helicopter over Baghdad would gun down civilians and say as an afterthought, “Nice.” And who but Orwell or Stalin would have dreamed up a police state shored up by phony exhortations of national security as an excuse to invade the privacy of everyone, just in case they might do something the state doesn’t like.

It will become more dangerous to shine a light into the state’s dark corners. The war on investigative journalists is already underway. Why? As Edward Snowden said today in a press release, “In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning, or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised—and it should be.”


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